What is Outsider Art?

03/27/2018     News and Film

Outsider Art is any art created by self-taught artists, outside of the prescribed conventional art culture or schools. It traces its roots to France, where artist Jean Dubuffet coined the phrase “Art Brut” to describe what he considered a more authentic, “low” approach to art, created outside the boundaries of mainstream culture. “Art Brut” translates to raw art, literally meaning it has not been “cooked” by traditional schools or institutions.Synonymous with its earlier French counterpart in both literal meaning and artistic spirit, the term Outsider Art was first introduced by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972, who published a book of the same name. Outsider Art is truly any works created by those on the margins—either in the greater society or within a smaller cultural or ethnic group—without care for convention or classic training. In recent years, the term has become a catchall to describe a wider group of art created by those with disabilities or suffering from mental illness, societal “outcasts” for reasons besides their lack of formalized artistic training.A collection of Outsider Art from the Estate of Gloria G. Einbender (1930-2017) will open Freeman 's April 25 American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction. The 41 lots represent artists including Eddie Arning (1898-1993), Navajo artist Mamie Deschillie (1920-2010), Purvis Young (1943-2010), Vernon Clyde "Clyde Angel" Willets (1920-2006), Thornton Dial, Sr. (1928-2016) and more. These artists worked outside of established schools, beyond the boundaries of their respective cultures.Einbender was a passionate lover and supporter of the arts, especially the visual arts. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gloria moved to New York City at the age of 20 to pursue a career in fashion illustration. It was there that she married her longtime partner, Edwin. In 1964, the couple relocated to the Philadelphia area where Edwin founded the Honeybee clothing store. Gloria worked closely beside him and together, they produced a fashion catalogue that won accolades in the women 's fashion industry; they later expanded their business from one store to 14. The Einbenders returned to New York City in the late 1970s to fully participate in—and derive inspiration from—the vibrant city's cultural offerings. Widowed in 1987, Einbender developed an interest in Folk and Outsider Art at the American Folk Art Museum and shortly thereafter began collecting works by Outsider and self-taught artists, with an emphasis on rural Southern artists.Gloria ultimately returned to Philadelphia, where she filled her Rittenhouse Square home with the brilliant color and exuberance of the collection she built over the course of nearly 30 years.Discover more Outsider Art featured in the April 25 American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction.